March 31, 2014
READ: Leviticus 16:7-22
He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat (v.21).
While visiting a friend in Marseille, France, we stopped by an old church. I took in the cold stone floors, the magnificent ancient walls and the smell of the musty wooden pews. Almost hidden from my view, built into a wall, was the confessional box. It contained enough for just one person on either side of a wooden slat. My friend quietly commented that the act of confessing our sins one to another seemed to have disappeared from many modern churches. This challenged me not only to confess my sin to God but also to others.
The book of Leviticus gives a detailed description of how the Israelites could be reconciled to God through the confession of and atonement for sin by a priest—acting on behalf of the people of God. In 16:7-10 we read of the scapegoat, a word that today refers to someone who is singled out for unfair blame or punishment. During the days of ancient Israel, however, the priest selected two goats—one became a sin offering through the shedding of its blood and the other became the scapegoat. The goat would have the disobedience and the shameful acts of the people placed on it and would then be driven out into the wilderness (vv.5,21-22). Then the people would be “purified and made right with the LORD” (v.10).
Confessing our shortcomings to God—who is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” is vital (Psalm 145:8 NIV). But we are also instructed to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).
Today, when I sin, I’m compelled to confess it to God and to fellow believers I know and trust. They lovingly help me deal with my sin, pray for me and point me to God and His forgiveness. —Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
1 Samuel 24:1-22 ‹365-day plan
Ask God to show you to whom He wants you to be accountable. Why is it so important for us to confess our sins to God and others? What happens when we don’t confess?